As the controversy over Yelp’s user reviews and business sponsorship continues to mount, the crowd-sourced business review website has pledged to keep user-generated content separated from the advertisements.
The company wrote in an official blog post that "despite our best efforts to educate consumers and the small business community, myths about Yelp have persisted. We’ve said all along we believe these incorrect notions stem from the combination of the filter and this advertising feature – and we’re practicing what we preach."
Companies had alleged that Yelp practices its own brand of highly mercenary search engine optimization (SEO), favoring positive reviews of big ad buyers and penalizing business who purchase little to no advertising on the site. While Yelp has strenuously denied these charges, several complainants have nonetheless pushed forward with lawsuits.
In the wider world of search engine optimization (SEO), such a practice would be hugely detrimental to the legitimacy of search results, which is why search engines like Google have strict rules separating their natural search results from ad content.